December 8, 2006
I don’t remember when it started. But I know that after this it got worse. A few days after Jennifer was killed my class was canceled because the RCMP had shut down the entire capital of Nunavut — well, they told the taxi service to no longer take calls. Later we found out that someone with a rifle on a snowmobile was riding around town shooting randomly in the air. We were told there was no danger. Jennifer’s murderer was not found during my entire stay that term. When taxis were back in service we would sometimes drive close to her home surrounded by the police yellow tape. An RCMP officer came over to chat with the taxi driver. My route was no where near but taxis are shared in Iqaluit so you never know where you might find yourself. I was not afraid for myself since the violence in Nunavut is Inuit against Inuit. But I was afraid. The death as described by so many people was so violent. It was more like an unpaid drug dealer’s cruel and cowardly threat to someone else. Jennifer was chosen as the victim. There was no explanation. I began to understand why Inuit youth from Iqaluit listened to Tupak and related to the violence described in his rap music from the Hood.
We all sat there in the overcrowded auditorium in Inukshuk High School. We held candles, remembered the women victims of violence in Montreal but everyone thought of Jennifer. In the background was a stretched seal skin, a cultural symbol of the community. Paututiit, the Inuit Women’s association used this as a symbol of unity where each peg serves the purpose of stretching the skin evenly. Each is needed. each has equal value.
If Jennifer had not been so violently killed she would probably not be part of my everyday life years later. There are some images you cannot forget, at least I cannot.
On Friday, Dec. 6, 2002, 13-year-old Jennifer Naglingniq, of Iqaluit, Nunavut, helped her teacher hang Christmas decorations. A few hours later she was dead, xxx murdered in her home. Her mother, CBC Iqaluit program clerk Nicotye Naglingniq, found her body when she returned home shortly after midnight.
Wende Tulk, Jennifer’s home room teacher at Inuksuk high school, says Jennifer was a special student – bright, with high marks and a natural leader. “People listened to her. You know when she graduated she would be doing great things.”; She was an enthusiastic soccer player and just bought new soccer shoes the day before she was killed. Tulk will be haunted by Jennifer’s dyed-orange ponytail, her beautiful voice and her positive attitude. “She was always singing, always happy.” She said that Jennifer – and her final act of helpfulness – won’t be soon forgotten. ” We’re going to leave those Christmas decorations up all year now.”
xxxx, 24, was charged with Jennifer’s murder but was released from Baffin Correctional Centre a few days later, when the charge of first degree murder was stayed.. The Crown decided the case against xxxx wasn’t strong enough to proceed at this time. The Crown has one year to reactivate the case. The RCMP say they are continuing the investigation. Police are not revealing how Jennifer was murdered, saying that only them and the murderer know how she died.
Please support the Jennifer Naglingniq Memorial Fund. A memorial fund has been set up to create an annual award in Jennifer’s name for a student at Inukshuk high school who contributes to making Iqaluit a better place. Donations can be made at the CBC Toronto Credit Union in the Jennifer Naglingniq Memorial Fund account 9879 or through the Bank of Montreal in Iqaluit, account 3635 8040 108. You can also send your donation to: The Jennifer Naglingniq Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 490, Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0. Please give generously. The deadline for donations at the CBC Toronto Credit Union may be expired (Source 2002?).”
Allison Brewer. 2003. “Troubled ghosts of our sisters.” The Globe & Mail. Saturday, December 6: A19
A year ago, as we in Iqaluit prepared to commemorate the Montreal Massacre, one of our own was added to the list of victims of violence against women. Dec. 6, 2002, dawned cold and clear in Iqaluit. A community not unfamiliar with the subject, it had for years recognized and honoured the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Last year, the 13th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, was no different. As I made my way down the hill on a morning walk to work with Maureen Doherty, the event organizer, there were the usual worries. Had enough coffee and tea been ordered for the expected 50 or so people who usually show up for the event? Would the change of venue from the Arctic College campus to Inuksuk High School work? All matters that seemed of great importance that morning (Brewer 2003:A19).
November 16, 2006
In the 1998 Anna Packwood’s family and friends came from across continents to celebrate her 100th birthday. This was the culmination of research on the Positive Presence of Absence: a history of the African Canadian community through works in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. I can honestly say that of the ten years working at the NGC, this impromptu gathering — which almost did not happen because of security concerns over the large numbers and the last-minute arrangements — this was the high point of a decade of work there. The National Gallery of Canada now presents six images in their African Canadian section which the portrait bust of Tommy Simmons on their educational web site entitled Cybermuse.
One of the catalysts for my research in the early 1990s was a conversation with Fritz Benjamin, a Haitian-Canadian who was working at that time as a security guard. He asked me who Tommy Simmons was, the man portrayed in the larger than life bronze bust prominently displayed in the water court. I didn’t know but once I started looking there were more questions about more works of art. After sharing my interests with Mairuth Sarsfield, author of No Crystal Stairs and her sister Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas they became my mentors. Lucille in particular spent hours with me clarifying histories. I eventually met other members of the Montreal community and wove various fragments together so I could present this walking tour to friends, then to fellow graduate students and finally to the public. It was a personal project that the Gallery promoted from 1995-1997 when they advertised it and offered it as a contract tour.
The image is my first experiment in using Adobe Photoshop to create transparent .png images. I needed to learn .png for my new Google Earth community.
The Adobe Photoshop layers include Anna Packwood on the lower left, with a bronze of her daughter, Lucille Vaughan, an activist, educator and librarian. Beside them is Dr. Carrie Best, pioneer Nova Scotia journalist, activist and author. To the right of the water court is Jennifer Hodge Sarsfield, Anna Packwood’s granddaughter ,a pioneer in Canadian film narratology and beside her is the cover of Mairuth Sarsfield’s book entitled No Crystal Stairs, which was on the short list for Canada Reads filmmaker. A photograph taken in that part of Montreal Mairuth called ‘burgundy city’ shows Mairuth, Susan and Lucille, Anna Packwoods, daughters in the 1940? The collage of the family and friends from across the States, Canada and the Caribbean wasn’t large enough to include them all.
I wrote this in a May 3, 1998 thank you note to NGC Education Division Director, Mary Ellen Herbert, CC: Judith Parker, Mairuth Sarsfield.
After the luncheon celebration with Anne Packwood, about fifty of the invited guests came to the NGC. It was larger than anticipated but it was a huge success. Among the guests were Dr. Carrie Best, OC., Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas, Dominique Sarsfield, numerous friends of Anne Packwood from many different parts of Canada from Edmonton, Dartmouth, and of course, Montreal. There were guests from the United States and from Bermuda. The group included four or five elderly people in wheelchairs, a baby in a carriage, children of all ages. After a warm greeting under the Water Court we went to the Seminar Room. I showed about a dozen slides of the Picasso exhibition and a few of Orson Wheeler’s sculptures: Tommy Simmons and Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas. The group applauded warmly when they saw the bust of Lucille. Then we went to the Water Court to see Tommy Simmons. The discussion there is something I wish I had on tape. Many at first did not recognize the model by name or by the sculpted bust. But as we talked more and more people remembered something about him. One woman had babysat his children. Another played on teams that competed with his. Another told me of a Wheeler sculpture of an African Canadian model once owned by David? States. An artist from Detroit was excited by what could be done in galleries and plans on following up when she gets home. I invited Lucille to speak about her experience as Wheeler’s model for the 1950’s bust. It was captivating listening to her describe Wheeler’s special qualities as educator and artist. She had been particularly touched by his openness to Black history at that time. This experience was a highlight for me in my years at the NGC.
In the 1920’s awareness of black culture spread from Harlem in New York across the continent and the ocean. During this Renaissance African American arts and literature reached new pinnacles of celebrity. Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong inspired Canadians. Visual artists in Canada attempted to reverse negative stereotypes of black subjects. This sculpture of Tommy Simmons, which celebrates both his blackness and his individuality, gave the emerging artist Orson Wheeler a sense of accomplishment. Simmons was a Montreal sleeping car porter for forty-three years. Work conditions were difficult. The transcontinental trips meant days away from home. Severe employment limitations were placed on black workers. Many, including those with higher education, even doctors and lawyers, were obliged to become porters. Sleeping car porters became the economic elite and catalysts of change in African Canadian communities. Tommy Simmons was a dedicated coach of winning teams. His integrated baseball teams which included girls of African, French and Italian descent, were unprecedented in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Because he was bilingual he entered tournaments in French and English communities from Chicoutimi, Québec to St. John, N.B. [Interviews with Carl Simmons and B. Jones, 1995]
November 16, 2006
See also MySwicki (in process)
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